Good morning, LadyNerds!! I hope you've taken Thursday from behind roughly and with not a little affection. Is that a weird way to start this post? Is that a weird way to talk in general? Probably. Whatever; it's nearly Valentine's Day. I guess I'm an an amorous mood towards weekdays. More likely I'm amorous due to the fact that this time tomorrow I'll be on my way to New Orleans! Watch out, friends of Poshdeluxe! I'm gonna get amorous all over ya!
I'm here today to teach you wonderful LadyNerds how to make your own stationery! Now, wait! Before you wonder if I'm going to teach you how to make paper, I AM NOT. I don't know how to make paper (well, I mean, I do, in that I made paper in fourth grade science class. But I don't know how to make it look nice), and you guys should know from my Fascinator post that when I say I don't know how to do something, I REALLY REALLY MEAN IT. So also trust me when I say that making your own stationery is so easy you can do it when drunk, half-asleep or completely craft-illiterate, like me. So let's start making our own custom-embossed, fancy stationery!
You may also be wondering why you need your own custom-embossed fancy stationery. The short answer is: you don't. I'm sure you can buy super pretty stationery that meets your very casual stationery needs at any fancy stationery shop, or also Target. But! Maybe you have a new pen pal you're trying to impress! Maybe you want to write out fancy invitations to your friends, inviting them to come watch the Downton Abbey season finale at your house. Maybe you just dislike spending lots of money on something you can make yourself for much less. Or maybe you’re bored and need an activity. I don’t know. I can’t presume to live your truth. All I can show you how to do is make some shit out of paper. So let’s do that.
Now, making your own embossed stationery does require that you avail yourself of your local craft store to arm yourself with some assorted tools and materials. The nice thing about buying the embossing stuff is that the most expensive thing (the embosser) is 25 dollars and you should only have to buy one every 5 or so years. The rest is pretty inexpensive!
ALSO, before we get into the nuts and bolts, you may be wondering what embossing is. Simple: embossed images are images which are lightly raised on a piece of paper. This is NOT the same as letterpress (indented images pressed onto paper using great force) or engraved (raised images created by carving out an image from paper) paper. Heat embossing is, to be honest, Letterpress and Engraving’s poor, redheaded cousin. But let’s be frank: the poor redheaded cousin is a hell of a lot more down to Earth and fun to hang out with. And I don’t know how to build a home letterpress machine, but I do know it requires a tire jack, so there’s pretty much no way that’s ever going to happen in my life.
Here’s what you need to buy at the craft store:
• At least two kinds of paper (I chose one cardstock and one handmade paper, because I like handmade paper. You can use two types of cardstock, cardstock and some regular printer paper, whatever. Live your truth, butterflies.)
• At least one stamp! (unless you have some at home)
• Embossing ink (I bought clear ink because I’m not sure what the point of dark embossing ink is. I am sure there is a point, though, and I’m sure I’ll convince myself that I NEED TO OWN IT the next time I’m at Michael’s.)
• Embossing powder (Embossing powder comes in all sorts of colors! This is pretty easy - pick the color you want your embossed design to be!)
• Ribbon (optional)
• Envelopes (optional, but what's the point of making pretty stationery if you don't mail it in a pretty envelope?)
Some other tools that it is handy to have, if you do not already!
• Scrapbooking glue, a glue stick, spray adhesive or any other type of non-hot glue gun type of adhesive
• A sense of adventure
OKAY. Let's get it!
Here are all the assembled tools and materials I used:
See! This is easy!
Now, the first thing you want to do is decide what you want your stationery to look like. For instance, I knew I wanted a gold/copper theme, and I knew I wanted my nice, handmade paper to be backed by my (equally nice, but much sturdier) cardstock. I also knew I wanted the embossing to be on the handmade paper, not the cardstock. So in my head that equaled the following: embossed handmade paper with a border/backing of cardstock. In other words, I was going to have to glue the handmade paper to the cardstock ina visually pleasing fashion.
The handmade paper is the lighter paper on the bottom; the shiny cardstock is on top.
To do this, you probably need to cut at least one of your types of paper (though most likely, your paper came in 8 1/2 x 11 or A4 size, and therefore needs to be cut down to fit your envelope anyway). I BEG you to take this word of warning from me: USE A PAPER CUTTER. Break into your office, do it after hours, borrow your kid's teacher's paper cutter, WHATEVER. Because you want even, straight edges and unless you are a WIZARD, you cannot do that with scissors.
So that's the first step. Cut your paper to fit your envelope/idea. USING YOUR WIZARDRY. Or a paper cutter.
The second step is the fun part! Let's emboss some shit!
Before you emboss anything, you may want to line up your stamps on your paper so that you have a general idea of what you want to do and where you want to do it. I chose a stamp of some agapanthus (which I totally thought were supposed to be dandelions, because I know fuckall about gardening) and also used what I like to refer to as my Fancy Lady Times Stamp, which is just a stamp with a Victorian-esque scroll to it and not a stamp that dresses up in sequined gowns and slouches around the house drinking champagne and smoking long filtered cigarettes, as the name might imply.
I thought briefly about stamping my initials at the bottom of the page but I decided that looked too busy. Get out of here, E and C!
Once you've lined up things correctly, it's time to emboss it! To emboss a stamp, rub Embossing Ink over the stamp surface.
If you are me, you will use this time to sexually harass your stamps by implying that you are rubbing massage oil on them and that they were asking for it, look at how they are dressed. If you are me, then you are a little weird.
It's better if you find the embossing ink that has a sort of foam tip and is super easy to roll on, instead of the stamp pads. Just don't go too crazy with it or you'll find that the definition of the stamps blurs.
Next, stamp your image onto your paper!! You'll be able to see a faint outline of the clear ink.
Next! Sprinkle Embossing Powder over the stamped image! You should be able to see a bit of definition of the image under the powder - it will cling to the ink.
It's like one of those 3D "art" posters from the early 90s that I always failed miserably at.
Next! Tap the excess powder back into its container. Embossing powder doesn't grow on trees! Don't waste this shizz!
You might need to use a very fine paintbrush to sweep away some of the excess grains of powder. You want your image to look as clean as possible, with the powder only clinging to the embossing ink and nowhere else! I can now tell you from experience that if you have textured paper, little grains of embossing powder will get trapped in its closet, and you'll find out that Bridget is allergic to cherries, to cherries, to cherries.
Now! Let's emboss this thing! Grab your heat embossing tool, plug it in, and turn it on. You do not need to wait for it to heat up. These things start blowing hot air faster than a Fox News correspondent covering the White House.
It's sort of like a hair dryer that kind of looks like a sex toy, or a sex toy that will scorch your ladybits. I caution you not to use it for sex or hairstyling purposes. Also, don't touch the tip of this thing. It really gets hot!
Let's be safe! Here are some safety tips about using a heat embossing tool:
1. Don't point it at your face while it's turned on.
2. Don't touch any hot parts.
3. Try not to kill yourself or anyone else.
4. Your cat doesn't think it's funny when you aim it at him and shriek, "Look, Kitty! It's a kitty sauna! BE WARM!"
Aim your (plugged in, turned on) embossing tool at your embossing powder-covered stamp. You want to keep it about six inches from the surface of your paper - otherwise the air blowing out of the tool could scatter some of the grains of powder.
Watch as your stamp goes from powdery mess to shiny, awesome embossedness! It takes like 20 seconds! IT IS MAGIC.
It's hard to capture the difference, but this stamp image is now raised and shiny!
It really is that simple! You stamp the paper with the embossing ink, you sprinkle some powder over the stamped image like you're Tinkerbell spinkling fairy dust, tap off the excess and then aim a pointed hot stick at the thing for twenty seconds! That's it!
Go crazy embossing things! Emboss ALL THE PAPER!
After you're done embossing, you want to pretty up your stationery. For me, this meant affixing my embossed (light) piece of paper to my detailed (heavy) cardstock. I did this by using a Scrapbooker's Glue stick (which is just liquid glue with a foam applicator) on the back of my light paper and gluing it to the cardstock.
The cardstock makes a nice border!
Then I pitched a fit because I couldn't find my gold pen anywhere, even though I'm FOREVER finding my gold pen and not my silver pen and then getting annoyed because I need my silver pen. I found all of my silver pens while frantically looking for my gold pen and never found my gold pen and I'm still really upset about it and let's not discuss it. So I still can't write on my stationery, as it happens.
Still, I decided to finish strong by tying a coordinating ribbon around the stationery. I hot-glued the ribbon into looking like a fancy bow, both because I can't tie a bow properly and because I love my hot glue gun and felt guilty for crafting without it.
I'll never leave you again, glue gun!
I finished things off by embossing my envelope in a gold color. Coordination!
A fancy stationery set to meet any of my LadyNerd needs!
And that's it! I used almost 2000 words to tell you about something that took me literally five minutes on my first-ever try. It was so easy! I'm going to emboss EVERYTHING from now on. I'm already looking into buying custom-made stamps so that I can create a letterhead that says "From the desk of your foul-mouthed friend Erin." EVERYTHING IS SO DELIGHTFUL!
So, go, emboss! It's so easy and rewarding and makes you look fancy even though it takes no work at all! That's my definition of being a LadyNerd!
Ed note: My thanks to Alysia, who emailed me to point out that I spent a lot of time talking about something that stays very still and not something that you can write on. All emails about grammar errors I make should include discussion of boozy milkshakes.